It’s true around the world, but especially so in the countries Set Free calls home – nothing is more important than family. The men go to work while the women care for the children and the home. Their children are able to go to school. Family roles are very traditional, and they work well. But life is precariously balanced on each member of the family being able to do their job. There is no safety net when you are untouchable and impoverished living in a developing country. There is also a clean water scarcity in India. When there is no margin for error, something as simple as water can throw the entire family balance into chaos.
Water Scarcity in India
Rangamma came to the village of Vemulapalli after she got married in 2008. Her marriage began with joy and she was blessed with two children. But trouble came for her soon after when her second child started walking. That’s when her village began experiencing water scarcities. Ever since then, she began to worry about fetching water each and every day after waking up.
There is one irrigation canal that runs through the village, but due to excessive usage of chemical fertilizers, this canal water became polluted and undrinkable. (Polluted water from chemical fertilizers is sadly the cause of a lot of the clean water scarcity in India.) Because of this, all women in the village had to walk between 8 and 12 kilometers twice each day to fetch water for the family. The water they gathered was still not drinkable. It had to be boiled before using. The women encountered oppressive summer heat. They mucked through treacherous roads during the rainy season. All done for the sake of collecting enough water for their families. Years of these long walks tested the patience of these women.
The women suffered a lot carrying 2 heavy, water-filled vessels for miles twice every day. If there was a delay in bringing water, the women were also delayed in cooking the family meals. This affected the men’s ability to go to work, and the children’s ability to attend school. Lost work equals lost daily wages. Families regularly fought, and there was no peace to be found. The water scarcity placed a heavy strain on the family.
The Ripple Effect of Clean Water
Sometimes it’s easier to think of the work Set Free does in simplistic terms. Drinking unclean water brings disease. Giving fresh water rids these villages of water-borne illnesses. And to some extent, that is true. But thinking only in that way misses the whole story.
There is a ripple effect that happens when you give a person clean water. They are no longer burdened from the health problems that occur from drinking impure water and being forced to carry that heavy load for long distances. The security clean water provides also restores the family. Women are able to care for the households again. Children are able to attend school. Men are able to go to work, receive their daily wages, and relieve the economic pressures that poverty places on them.
But even more important than that, giving clean water is a very tangible expression of God’s love for all. When you give clean water, not only do you restore families – you give them hope. And with the hope that is found through Jesus, anything is possible.